Common Folk

By October 27, 2010Writing about Writing

During class the other night (English 431, Invention of the Novel), Professor John Shanahan pointed out a great online resource for writers who are interested in conducting original, historiographic research. Old Bailey Online is a searchable index of 197,745 criminal trials conducted at London’s central criminal court from 1674 to 1913. The database bills itself as “the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published.” Its sister project, London Lives, is a searchable database of 240,000 manuscripts detailing the lives of commoners living in London from 1690 to 1800.  Both databases of primary sources are just begging to be mined by any student of history.